After team devotions and prayer, we all loaded up to pick up the children we sponsor for a special day with them in Granada. 13 of our kids were treated to their very first boat ride on Lake Nicaragua, lunch out at Tip Top, gifts from sponsors, and many hugs & laughs. It was indescribable to be able to spend quality time getting to know the children we support and to let them know we love them and are proud of them in person. We also spent time talking with their parents as we took them back.
One of the most life-changing experiences of the short-term missions trips I have been on has involved the children we sponsor. Over the past 6 years, since our daughter and I started sponsoring Yorleni, we have seen her grow into a beautiful young 14 yr old high school student. 4 yrs a ago, we added her sister Bertha and 3 yrs ago added little Genesis. The small amount we contribute pays for their school, supplies, uniform, shoes, etc. Over the last yrs, I have come to know their wonderful Mama, Raquel. She is a faithful Jesus-follower who is hard working and committed to her girls. There have been many valleys for this family since I have known them. Raquel was working 6 days a week at a factory to support her girls when she was hospitalized for a severe infection in her leg. I was able to visit her in the hospital and leave some money to help provide food for the girls while she was off work. Her words when I arrived at her 9 patient room at the hospital were, “I was praying you would come.” We praised GOD together as the Great Provider. I also was able to assure the girls that I would continue praying for all of them. Because of excessive leg swelling, she was not allowed to keep her job since she had to stand all day. We prayed that they would have enough to eat through these difficult times.
This little family has lived in a very humble home consisting of rusty pieces of tin and tarp with sheets for a room divider. There were no doors or windows. During rainy season, one of their two mattresses had to be put on top of the other because of water coming in through the roof. I have no idea how Raquel was able to send the girls off to school in their clean, white blouses each morning and work from 6am to 6pm every day but Sunday. At the end of March, 2014, their little home collapsed in an earthquake. They had many sleepless nights and the young girls told me they were afraid to sleep at night after that. They moved next door to live in their aunt’s little home. 3 girls, 2 toddlers, a baby, and 2 moms lived for several months in a 15×15 square. Still….Raquel made sure that her girls were at school each day, doing homework, and the oldest teaching Sunday School each week. In May, the family found that the govt assistance for some who lost homes was approved and they were blessed with a concrete floor and block wall house. Our family came alongside and added some safety features such as doors that lock, windows with bars, lights, beds, and mattresses. Again, it took so little to help provide some safety for these girls. This trip back, they look well rested and happy. It was exciting to hear them share their dreams of becoming a pediatrician, a lawyer or psychologist, and a teacher. If it is the Lord’s will, we hope to help each one graduate from college and impact their community and the Kingdom.
I am so thankful that God uses the little I share to make an immeasurable impact for these little ones. What a blessing to know these girls personally! I would encourage any and all to consider sponsoring one of these precious gifts from God.